Unprocessed is an interesting review on eating unprocessed food versus the easy, prepared food that we tend to grab enroute the next activity. I started reading this book at an outdoor swim meet in July where although, I try to pack healthy snacks – almonds and fruit – the kids gravitated to the sour keys on the snack table. The book was interesting and makes the reader think of reasonable changes that could be incorporated each day but it would be difficult to follow her diet on a day-to-day basis.
The author, a grad student, decided to devote a year to eating unprocessed. She struggled to provide a definitive definition of unprocessed. She started her year reviewing what was in the supermarket and having a last processed meal and then began by learning about wheat, making her own bread and examining sugar. She examined how sugar. I had no idea that white sugar often has bone char as an additive which helps whiten sugar causing vegans avoid regular store bought sugar. The author investigated produce and salt next, making her own table salt from ocean water and canning her own tomatoes. I grew up in a family that froze vegetables, made jam and canned tomatoes, pickles and beets so I love the idea of this – just need to find the time!
As part of her review, she looked at all the”stuff” that we accumulate and how disposable things have become as she considered whether she could reasonably repair her microwave (the answer was no, it was not worth spending the amount to repair it when she could either get a new one or go without). She shared how difficult it had been to eat out, trying to understand where produce and meat for meal preparation had come from. She investigated the art of making of beer, wine and spirits even making her own mead.
As part of her field trips she visited a dairy and a goat farm, milking goats during the tour (I can say that I have actually milked a goat and hated drinking goat milk as a teen). The author even took part in the killing and butcher of a sheep, eating the fresh organs as part of a stirfry and learning the process of preparing meat for purchase despite her vegetarian roots.
In the end, the author learned about herself, she had not lost weight but she had reconsidered her own buying power. She had kept herself full and spent her last week trying to only spend the amount provided by assistance benefit which she found very challenging. She discovered the importance of eating and preparing food with others.
The book was very interesting and referred to Michael Pollen’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma which I have read. More than just the processed food, the book reinforces the importance of thinking of our environment with our purchases as well as our communities. It is important to spend money in our communities, so that it stays local by purchasing items at farm stands, markets and local stores. Our family does try to eat less processed food and with September looming, will try and be prepared with meals ready to throw into the crockpot for the busy days ahead!
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